UNLEASH the Power of Data

NGO Aid Map

The power of data is endless. We use Fitbits to collect data about our activity level, sleep cycles, and diet to try and live healthier lives. Our personal data is used by companies to track spending habits and preferences to tailor advertisements perfectly to you. (How did they know I wanted that cat-carrying backpack!?) Data can also be used to track our progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Data, and in particular, open and shareable data, is going to be key to ensuring that the innovations that we create at UNLEASH 2017 will be able to reach those who most truly need them.

At UNLEASH 2017, 1,000 young leaders from around the world will come together to innovate and find solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Climate change, hunger, poverty, disease and all of the other challenges we face today need constant attention and innovation, for the challenges we face are never stagnant. However, it is not enough to merely create solutions to problems; we must also ensure that these solutions reach the populations who will benefit the most from them, and that is best achieved through collaboration. Data can be used to facilitate such collaboration.

Here at InterAction, we attempt to harness the power of data, collective action, and collaboration, something that I would like to bring to UNLEASH. NGOs, civil society organizations (CSOs), and local organizations play a key role in achieving the SDGs. They are on the ground and integrated with developing communities helping them achieve their goals. Communication between innovators and implementers is critical to ensure that we make progress toward achieving the SDGs. Initiatives that InterAction has created, such as NGO Aid Map, have taken the first steps to help make this happen.

NGO Aid Map is an initiative that maps what U.S.-based NGOs are doing and where. The platform is open, simple to understand, and visual. It provides a picture of aid that otherwise wouldn’t exist in this format. The map showcases information collected on over 100 U.S. NGOs and thousands of international and local partners, and can serve as a platform (or a model for a similar platform) to connect these organizations with the resources, research, and tools that are going to be developed at UNLEASH 2017.

Understanding the impact that NGOs have on the progress of the SDGs and how data mapping can be used to connect NGOs and innovators is a key element to amplifying the impact of the innovations that we create at UNLEASH 2017. Using NGO Aid Map as an outline, we have the opportunity to extend their impact and reach more people than what was ever previously possible. I am so excited to work with fellow innovators during UNLEASH 2017 in Denmark and hope that our innovations provide solutions whose impact extends well beyond those borders.